An Audio Drama by Will Hadcroft, Read by Frazer Hines (BBC’s New Doctor Who Audio Originals #13)
When looking for something quick to read or listen to in between my history books that I’ve been consuming, I came across something that sounded pretty cool – a Doctor Who audio drama featuring The Second Doctor! Now, I’m no slouch with Doctor Who audio dramas, as I’ve been slowly making my way through the monthly line from Big Finish Audio Productions. What I have not done, however, is ever listen to an audio drama with The Second Doctor. Sadly, Patrick Troughton has been gone for a long time now, so we have been blessed by the next best thing, a narration by Frazer Hines, the actor that played Jamie McCrimmon in the original show. I’ve seen him do things in the past where he mimics his former protege’s voice pretty well, and this is no exception. Doctor Who: The Resurrection Plant is written by Will Hadcroft, an author I became familiar with due to his participation with Tripodscast, a podcast based on the classic BBC TV series, The Tripods. He usually writes junior novels such as the Anne Droyd series, books that I need to read one of these days.
I was largely unaware of this new(ish) line of audio dramas labeled as “BBC’s New Doctor Who Audio Originals“, so this is a first for me. Seeing that I recognize some of the names from Big Finish Productions whilst scanning authors and other staff, it looks like they should be of the same solid quality I’m used to with new producers and such. These come out at a roughly quarterly interval, so these wouldn’t be hard to keep up with if I should choose to continue listening to these.
“The TARDIS brings its occupants to Calico Three, an Earth-like planetoid where industrial foundries are worked alongside sophisticated technology. The Doctor is staggered to learn about the Resurrection Plant, which re-births anyone mortally wounded in the line of work. While Jamie is put to work in the foundry, Zoe and the Doctor investigate the Plant – but when the machine goes terribly wrong, they must work with the locals to combat a horrifying monster. The Doctor also uncovers a shameful secret that, for him at least, hits close to home.”
The Resurrection Plant has all of the hallmarks of a classic Doctor Who adventure. While this is not a full cast drama, the structure, pacing, and tone of the story, as well as the sound design featuring sound effects and other flourishes make this seem straight out of a television script. It’s just over an hour long, so it’s even roughly the same length as a classic “four-parter”, just excluding the cliffhanger “stings” and theme song between sections. Honestly, it flows well as a single continuous production, and it never felt too long.
The structure of the episode is a classic “base under siege” story with a slight twist, as the monster comes from within. The story centers around the classic Tardis Team of The Doctor, Zoe, and Jamie as they find themselves on what was previously known as a small human outpost in deep space called Calico Three. It seems the planet has become hyper-industrialized with such a clear disregard for human life that massive casualty rates are accepted, if not common place. Even children of all ages are forced to slave away in mines, something that appalls The Doctor. But don’t worry! It seems the management of the company have a solution – people can come back again and again through technology referred to as a “Resurrection Plant”. This technology seems awfully familiar to The Doctor for obvious reasons.
This was a great introduction to this line of audio dramas, and a well-written and well-acted play. I absolutely love how it played with ideas that the audience knows about The Doctor, such as race and nature, that the TV show audience had no idea about at the time. The Doctor was somewhat freshly in hiding from his own people at this point, and kept all of the details of who or what he was away from his own companions even. The monster is a cool idea and well realized, and has some flashes of body horror that usually stand out to me in terms of the sort of Doctor Who villains I find the most memorable. Without going into spoilers too much, the play introduces a few characters it would be interesting to see more of, assuming we get more of these at some point. Overall, this was a solid purchase, and a great listen!